Brenton Thwaites and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Gods of EgyptGODS OF EGYPT

When the first preview for the mythological-sci-fi-fantasy-action-adventure something-or-other Gods of Egypt landed last fall, it was met with widespread derision due to the overwhelming whiteness of its cast of “Egyptians.” To their credit, film studio Lionsgate and director Alex Proyas quickly issued statements of apology for the movie’s lack of diversity. But now that the ghastly embarrassment in question has been released, I’m hoping for a statement of rebuttal from slighted Egyptian actors everywhere: "Hey, you know what? No apology necessary."

Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw in The WitchTHE WITCH

Good horror movies make you jump. Great ones make you unable to move. And writer/director Robert Eggers’ feature-film debut The Witch may be as close to great as this decade’s horror movies have yet come – a mesmerizing, stomach-tightening descent into madness completely devoid of irony. Its trappings may portend a literal-minded take on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, but the wickedness here is in no way theoretical or the product of mass (McCarthy-influenced) hysteria. Eggers’ ballsy achievement suggests, rather, that true evil can be an entity as real as those who believe in it, a physical presence conjured through excessive pride, fear, suspicion, lust, and, most critically, lack of faith. The Witch is a haunting experience, and the more you think about it, the more haunting it gets.

#OscarsSoWhat?Last March, in promoting his eventual blockbuster Furious 7, Vin Diesel made a bold pronouncement to Variety: “It will probably win Best Picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.”

Predictably, Diesel’s braggadocio about his movie – the latest in a series of genially dopey action thrillers that had never garnered any previous Academy notice – was much repeated, and mocked, in the press. But here we are 11 months later, with Furious 7 nowhere near the 2016 Oscar race, and one wonders if Vin Diesel is not only buff and baritone-voiced, but quite possibly prescient.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The RevenantThe conversation about this year’s Oscars may have been swallowed whole by the second-annual #OscarsSoWhite controversy, but there are still predictions to be made!

With Best Picture, thrillingly, the most unpredictable category of this year’s Academy Awards telecast (scheduled to air on ABC at 7 p.m. Central on Sunday, February 28), here are my educated and admittedly uneducated guesses in the evening’s 24 categories. The past two years, I guessed 18 of 24 correctly. The year before, I had a personal best of 19 out of 24. This year, I’m feeling wholly confident on about 15 of my guesses, so if you’re making bets with your co-workers or bookies, make sure not to wager a hefty amount of personal wealth.

Ryan Reynolds in DeadpoolDEADPOOL

Your ability to find the superhero comedy Deadpool funny is dependent on your being a 14-year-old, or more precisely someone who can easily access his or her (most likely his) inner 14-year-old. For director Tim Miller’s new Marvel adventure, I couldn’t quite. But I also can’t deny the obvious pleasure many are getting from this cinematic, deservedly R-rated comic book. And if we must endure future origin stories – and trust me, we do – I’d prefer they all shared this one’s anarchic spirit and happy willingness to trash, within studio-approved reason, the tenets that make so many of them boring as sin.

Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Kyle Mooney in Zoolander 2ZOOLANDER 2

Probably no film genre currently flashes a bigger “get out of jail free” card than the Hollywood comedy, if for no other reason than there being so many outstanding comedians that any movie employing even a half-dozen of them is guaranteed to feature a fistful of reasons to attend. Zoolander 2, however, has the comics and still isn’t worth seeing.

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in Hail, Caesar!HAIL, CAESAR!

When the first official trailer for Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hail, Caesar! landed, it suggested that their latest movie – set in the glorious Technicolor Hollywood of the early 1950s – would be something increasingly rare for the siblings: the sort of unapologetically lighthearted goofball comedy they haven’t made since 2004’s The Ladykillers. Look! There’s George Clooney in heavy eyeliner and a toga! Scarlett Johansson with a mermaid tail! Channing Tatum tap-dancing in a sailor suit! By this point in their careers, however, the Coen brothers may be incapable of delivering anything lacking in subtext and social critique, and if we were paying attention, we were told as much in the second trailer for their deeply entertaining yet startlingly profound entertainment.

Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker in The ChoiceTHE CHOICE

Arriving just in time for women and gay men not entrenched in Super Bowl hoopla, this past weekend brought with it the debut of director Ross Katz’s The Choice, the 11th (!) adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks weepie to hit cineplexes since 1999. This one finds its rain-drenched North Carolina romantics portrayed by the Georgia-born Benjamin Walker, which is regionally close-enough, and Australian actress Teresa Palmer, which is regionally not-even-close. Oh, and British actor Tom Wilkinson plays Walker’s homily-spouting father. I’m fine with Walker’s casting. But have these things really become so noxious, and obnoxious, that we can no longer find Americans willing to play major roles in Sparks movies, forcing us to farm those assignments out to foreigners? Is Trump aware of this?!

Jack Black and Bryan Cranston in Kung Fu Panda 3KUNG PU PANDA 3

Did the makers of Kung Fu Panda 3 not get the memo that second sequels in franchises are traditionally supposed to suck? Because this thing, to quote Jack Black’s hirsute and animated alter ego Po, is “Awesome!!!” with all three exclamation points.

Zac Efron and Robert De Niro in Dirty GrandpaDIRTY GRANDPA

As traditional boundaries in R-rated slapsticks continue to be pushed and filmmakers continue to seek new ways to comically shock us, if you’re going to title a movie Dirty Grandpa, you’d better make sure that grandpa is really, really dirty. Consequently, the biggest compliment I can give director Dan Mazer and screenwriter John Phillips is that the Dirty doesn’t nearly do justice to this Grandpa I truly can’t remember the last time I was this flabbergasted by screen vulgarity, or the last time I roared at screen vulgarity quite so hard.

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